SNP drinks plan slammed

A consultation paper aimed at tackling Scotland’s binge-drinking culture has been labelled as unfair, ill-considered and unworkable by two grocery trade associations.

Under the Scottish Government proposals, sales of alcohol to under 21s would be banned in stores — though young people could still buy alcohol in clubs and pubs.


The consultation also proposes setting a minimum price to sell a unit of alcohol, which is opposed by the Scottish Grocers’ Federation — whose members include Scottish Co-op and the Scotmid and Clydebank societies — and by the Scottish Retail Consortium chaired by former Scottish Co-op chief officer Ken Mackenzie.

The document — ‘Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol’ — also proposes ending some cheap drink promotions and making retailers pay towards the consequences of alcohol abuse. However the Scottish Grocers’ Federation said some aspects of the discussion paper are wrong and inappropriate and many proposed measures have not been fully thought through.

SGF Chief Executive John Drummond said minimum pricing will unfairly penalise the responsible drinking majority. Added Mr Drummond: “This measure is discriminatory on a commercial and also on a personal level. It is another blanket measure which would penalise the vast majority of 18 to 21 year olds who drink sensibly. SGF is not aware of evidence which suggests anti-social behaviour is solely or even in the majority of cases as a result of convenience stores selling alcohol.”

Meanwhile Scottish Retail Consortium Director Fiona Moriarty said the SNP Government’s proposals were an ill-thought-out reflex reaction not based on evidence: “Prices and promotions are broadly the same across the UK, but alcohol-related deaths are far higher in Scotland than England, which clearly shows Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is deep-rooted and complex.”

A Co-op Group spokeswoman said the society will respond to the paper before the September 9th deadline.

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